Tag Archives: Christmas Day

Christmas Day, 1959

This is a story from 55 years ago – the 25th December 1959, Christmas Day,  when I was 12 years of age (I’m 67 now – for those of you who arithmetically challenged!)

We weren’t what would be called a “comfortably-off” family in those days.  Financially, it was sometimes a bit of a struggle

 And for that particular Christmas, I wasn’t holding out much hope for anything particularly lavish

 OK – to our story.  It must have been about five in the morning when I got up in the freezing cold. And, boy, was it cold!  We didn’t have central heating in those days – and fires were only set in the bedroom when one was sick and confined to bed.

 There was a coal fire in the sitting room, but, being the early hour it was, last night’s cold ashes hadn’t yet been raked up, nor the day’s new fire assembled and lit.

In the dark, I crept downstairs and into the sitting-room.  By the fireplace was a selection of gifts.

 I have to say that it was with little enthusiasm that the wrapping paper was removed from each present.  A book, a selection box, some chocolate coins in gold foil, a pair of school socks (wow!).  And that seemed to be it.

 Oh, apart from a very small package which I left until last, considering it unworthy of my attention. It would be, no doubt, nothing very exciting.

 By this time, my Mother and Father had appeared from upstairs “Aren’t you going to open it?” Dad said, his breath visible in the chill air as he spoke.

 “I suppose so”, I replied… churlishly.  And the smallest, most insignificant-looking package was opened to reveal a wondrous miracle.  Inside a gold cardboard flip top box, was a pale green coloured Pye transistor radio.

 Oh, the surprise!  Oh, the delight!  Oh, the wonder of tuning in during those early hours of the morning to Radios Luxembourg, Athlone, Hilversum and a host of other exotic places.

What wonder!  To be able to hear over the still night airwaves songs of joy, carols of exultation, music of the angels played by far-off folk in strange-sounding places.

 The cold was forgotten, the gloom was dispersed, and there was laughter – joyful laughter on that beautiful morning.

 And to think that I had ignored what at first glance had seemed to be the most insignificant, the smallest and the least important gift on that Christmas morn

….but what would prove to be one of the most cherished, loved and valued possessions ever bestowed upon me

 ….given by the father who loved me and who had obviously sacrificed so much to bring such light and joy into my life that day.


Filed under The Ramblings of a Reformed Ecclesiastic

It’s the Law (?)

The Holy Days and Fasting Days Act of 1551 required that everyone in Britain attend church on Christmas Day and not use any vehicle to get there. While some parts were repealed by the Statute Law Revision Act of 1888, the remainder was repealed by the Statute Law (Repeals) Act of 1969, though it’s often reported that the original act is still in force and simply not enforced.

Leave a comment

Filed under The Ramblings of a Reformed Ecclesiastic

The Show Must Go On!

Not much should prevent the preacher from taking a service.

I remember reading about a vicar in a lonely rural parish.  His wife died suddenly on Christmas Eve but he still went to his little church on Christmas Day to conduct worship and administer the Sacrament.  Nobody turned up, but, as he had to, he went through the whole liturgy – all on his own

If we are to be truly professional and true to our calling, then we should try to rise above personal circumstances.

My father (aged 62) died in the Western Infirmary in Glasgow early on a Saturday evening. I went back to the family home and stayed until 10 or 11 p.m. Drove the 30 odd miles back to my manse, grabbed a sandwich, and spent half the night preparing a sermon – which I preached during Sunday worship while conducting the service A quick bite and then back down the road to Bearsden.

And I loved my Dad dearly – it wasn’t a case of “couldn’t care less”

I conducted my Mother’s funeral just a handful of years ago.   And wrote the Eulogy for my late wife’s service last June.

I’ve been in the pulpit with a bleeding nose, migraine, flu and a cracked open skull following being beaten up (this was on  Christmas Eve (and there is a post about it on this blog – you’ll find it at 6 May 2012)

Thick-skinned?  Some may say so…. but one is called to spread the Message “in season and out of season”


Leave a comment

Filed under The Ramblings of a Reformed Ecclesiastic